There’s a special birthday coming up for Festive Fingerprints and one that I am proud as punch to be celebrating. Festive Fingerprints will be ONE this very month. To celebrate, I’ve treated myself to a shiny new website (et voilà) complete with my very own blog, and for my first post, I wanted to write about something I really love - how to plan and style a product photoshoot.
When I decided to take the leap from Senior Graphic Designer and become a small business fledgling in the world of children’s cards and invitations, there were many things that I needed to learn on the job: accounting; business plans; logistics and the other 101 things that go with running your own start-up. But one of the things that has come naturally to me has been the planning, preparation, and styling of photoshoots. My career as a graphic designer meant that I was experienced at art directing photoshoots for clients and this continues to be a part of my job that I adore.
Despite Festive Fingerprint’s young age, I have just finished my third photoshoot, most recently for my upcoming Autumn and Christmas collection (soon to be revealed). Many people might find the thought of Christmas in July a little too much but not me! Heck, no! I wish it could be Christmas every day! There’s a song in there somewhere…
Christmas is the most magical time of year for me and I had big plans for this shoot. Dreams of idyllic inglenook fireplaces and grand sweeping staircases flanked by 20ft decadently decorated trees, okay so I might be getting a bit carried away now but you get the idea. But alas…the current pandemic forced me to rethink. Determined to keep my Christmas vision alive, I scoped out a location closer to home. In case you don’t already know, home is our dairy farm in Devon and work is in my little studio in the heart of the farmyard. After much deliberation, a vacant barn, complete with baby calves and bales of hay was to become my new photoshoot location (it was all very ‘nativity’). Whilst it may not be the most glamorous of locations and certainly not what I had initially imagined, it is most definitely one of the most authentic that I have worked in. It’s often the last-minute trips, or left-over dinners, or unplanned evenings that turn out to be the best, don’t they?
I am a meticulous planner by nature. My friends will tell you that despite always being late, my planning is faultless and photoshoots are certainly no exception. I always start the process by storyboarding the whole shoot with little thumbnail sketches. These sketches are often the result of moments of genius that come to me when I’m milking the cows in the morning, for some reason I seem to have all my best ideas in the parlour.
Social media is an important tool for brands such as Festive Fingerprints, it allows me to show my work in a creative space to an audience that may not naturally find their way onto my website. I love the opportunity it gives to express a vision and soak up inspiration. It is imperative that the imagery I put up is ‘on brand’ and of a high quality to generate as much engagement as possible. I try to make sure that I work out captions in advance of the photoshoot so that the images fit the narrative and blend together well.
If I had to give some top tips for planning and styling a brand shoot it would be to be as organised as you can. I like to set up some of the shots in advance to get a feel for how it’s working, check the composition fits the format specification, and see if any additional props are required. I’ll take a quick snap on my phone so that I can quickly replicate it on the day.
I think it’s very easy to underestimate the number of props required for a lifestyle photoshoot, particularly if you’re trying to create a scene that people can immerse themselves in. The depth, texture, dimensions, colour palette etc all need to be carefully considered. It’s much easier to style if you have a wide selection of props to choose from. To create depth in the images I try to include a mixture of heights, textures, and materials, even if they only appear blurred in the background, it really helps to add a sense of drama and context to your pictures and bring your shots to life.
Sourcing accessories for the styling of this shoot was an actual dream. There was a sumptuous red velvet wand from Fable Heart, creator of the most magic dress up, fact. A whole forest of autumn trees and mushrooms by Raduga Grez from Zuri and Jane. A herd of Ostheimer reindeer from One Hundred Toys and even a tiny wooden music box playing silent night to serenade us while we worked from Conscious Craft.
Whilst I don’t profess to be an expert, here are my top tips for styling a photoshoot:
- Think branding. Think about the brand colours and try and tie elements into your pictures to create a cohesive look and feel. The main colour for Festive Fingerprints at Christmas is a crimson red and so I always try to bring in a little detail of red into each shot.
- Have a plan. Be as organised as you possibly can be with a set list of shots and prioritise them in order of importance. Try to think about the order of the shots too, group ones that require the same set up to make things easier on the day.
- Be flexible. Even though a running order and shot list is important, if something isn’t working on the day then it’s important to be able to adapt and move on so that you are not wasting precious time.
- Variety is the spice of life. Consider including a couple of seasonal set ups so that you have some year-round variety.
- Find a photographer you can trust. I always work with the same photographer, Jess from Perspectives Photography Devon. I cannot sing her praises highly enough; she is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet and an unbelievably talented photographer. She always knows the exact shot I have in my head and every time the pictures arrive back; they always exceed my wildest dreams.
- Photoshoot survival kit; glue dots, masking tape, drawing pins, fishing line, and natural foliage. Oh and wine. Always wine.